Shifting Perception

Experimentation with narrative style can take place on several levels within stories and novels, one such style is the shifting narrative perception. The story’s narrator remains the same throughout, but there is a psychological or physical change that occurs within the protagonist as a result of their decision(s) or awareness they develop.

This particular style can be highly experimental and difficult to pull off. Below are two short stories that used this style to tell very different stories.

The first story ‘Axoloti’ is part of a collection by Julio Cortazar ‘Blow Up and Other Stories’ originally published under the title ‘End of the Game and Other Stories’.

It is told very much within the tradition of Borges, with the surreal and almost supernatural running in tangent. The ending takes you by surprise, as it is so unexpected!

The second story ‘The First Husband’ is part of a collection entitled ‘Give me Your Heart’ by Joyce Carol Oates.

In this story the shifting perception is used in a far more traditional way, to tell the story of jealousy. The ending is left open for you to decide what happens next. Personally I was unsure if the experiment worked in this instance, there where times when I was confused. I would definitely recommend it, but as the shift bounces back and forth from his mind to reality so swiftly in several places within the story it required you to be absolutely focused.

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